Aaron Pico’s growth as an MMA fighter was graphically on display Friday night.
In Uncasville, Connecticut, Pico defeated Solo Hatley Jr. by first-round submission (rear naked choke) on a Bellator card at Mohegan Sun Casino.
Pico, a Southern California native who now lives in Albuquerque and trains at Jackson-Wink MMA, improved his record to 6-3. Hatley, of Little Rock, Arkansas, is 8-3.
Pico, an outstanding amateur wrestler, signed with Bellator as a highly touted prospect in 2017. But his inexperience in the cage was evident as he lost three of his first seven fights.
Friday, Pico showed new skills. He took Hatley down 30 seconds into the fight and punished him with some effective ground-and-pound before securing the choke hold.
Pico’s first five victories had all come via strikes.
“It’s just good to get a win. (It shows) what we’re doing (in the gym) is working,” Pico said after the fight on the Paramount Network telecast.
… In Oxford, Mississippi, Luis Palomino (1-0) of Davie, Florida, defeated Albuquerque’s Isaac Vallie-Flagg by first-round TKO in a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 155-pound title fight.
Palomino landed a left hand, then followed with a short right that clearly hurt.
A few more punches put Vallie-Flagg on the canvas. The Albuquerque fighter beat the count but was ruled in no shape to continue.
Vallie-Flagg and Palomino are former teammates at Jackson-Wink.
… In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Tulsa’s Jimmy Flick (13-5) defeated Greg Fischer (10-2) by first-round submission (arm triangle) for the LFA flyweight MMA title. Fischer, of Forest Park, Maryland, trains part-time in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink.